Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Hoping Democrats take heart

To the editor:

I agree with your assessment that the new health insurance law will bring about less than revolutionary change in the near term (your editorial of March 24). But, in the context of the current political climate, it's remarkable that any law was passed at all.

Both major political parties are heavily impacted by corporate campaign contributions and corporate lobbying. So, it's really significant that the Democrats were able to shake off their corporate controllers and do the right thing for us by passing meaningful health insurance reform.

Democrats also managed to overcome the stony, implacable resistance of Republican extremism. The minority party desperately did everything possible to stop the reform effort. We experienced endless parliamentary maneuvers, distortions of the reform components (like the death panels falsehoods), a steady stream of hate from the right-wing talk shows, disruption of town hall meetings, and threats of violence. But Democrats stood their ground for the greater good.

I also agree with your assessment that no one really knows what the results of the new law will be. Will the insurance companies continue to do what they can to avoid paying for treatment? Will they even stay in the health care business? Will Medicare be allowed to negotiate the costs of pharmaceuticals? Will archaic employer-paid health insurance continue?

The new law is far from perfect, but it's a major step toward limiting abuses by the health insurance companies. Millions of people are going to actually benefit. I'm hoping that the Democrats will take heart from this victory and hold tough against corporate interests and Republican obstructionism as they deal with other major issues, such as global warming and regulating our runaway financial corporations.

Marshall McComb

Baker City

Paper should show restraint

To the editor:

I am compelled to write about the front page article regarding Kayla Petty. I understand that these things are "big news" in Baker City but I have to tell you I was disgusted with what I saw. The article itself is not my issue. It is the full color photo that accompanied it. It takes me back to when my husband was killed in November 2008 and how grateful I was that there were not photos printed of his accident.

If you did not ask the Petty family in advance how they would feel about having this photo published, then shame on you. Understand this. To the Petty family and the other kids that were involved and their families, this is not news. This is a horrific nightmare that they have to try to learn to live with. Having it plastered all over the front page of the newspaper for the general public to gawk at does not help these families. It only serves to keep a visual in their brains of something so terrible that words cannot describe.

It would serve this paper well to have some compassion and take into consideration how these photos may affect the people who are living these nightmares. I know the Petty family and I know firsthand how difficult things are during the first weeks and months following a tragedy such as this. My heart breaks for them. If you have not lived through something like this, you cannot truly understand what this does to a family. What you can do is show some restraint when you report on these issues.

Tammy Hunt

Baker City

Wolves are good for the land

To the editor:

The film "Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators" showed on March 23 and 24 in Baker City and Enterprise. An excellent post-film panel added depth to the film's information by answering questions from the audience. Dr. Beschta's talks on Large Carnivores and Sustainable Ecosystems on March 24 furthered our understanding of wolf influences on ecosystems. More than 300 people attended the film screenings and talks. The attendance highlights the interest in wolves, their role in ecosystem restoration and the ways that progressive ranchers are coexisting with wolves and managing their livestock operations to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts - such as burying their livestock carcass piles to avoid inviting wolves into areas and using location information from radio-collared wolves to know when to increase livestock protection measures.

The condition of willows, cottonwoods and aspen, it turns out, is a key measure of stewardship skill and system health - a grazing season's final exam. The more plants browsed to less than 4 feet tall the lower the grade. Because the browsers vary, a complex partnership between large carnivores and people is needed to restore watershed health and ecological diversity and function. Wolves and cougars modify wild ungulate behavior in ways that humans cannot. In turn, the responsibility for modifying livestock behavior and use of riparian vegetation rests with ranchers, land management agencies, and the public.

The return of the wolf represents an ecological fork in the road. Its presence leads to recovery of water lush landscapes, abundant with wildlife and fisheries, and economically sustainable and vibrant communities. Its continued absence gives us the status quo - small fish struggling to survive in overheated waters, rivers that go dry during drought, stunted plants and starving livestock and wildlife. How we choose depends on the future we prefer and whether we are willing and have the courage to coexist.

Suzanne Fouty

Baker City